THE ALL-NIGHTER READ
The Red Word by Sarah Henstra (Tramp Press, approx €14.99, out now) is the author’s first adult outing. Henstra uses the poignant setting of a mid-1990s Ivy League college campus to examine cultural mythology and how it might imbue our daily behaviour. Canadian student Karen becomes embroiled with members of a sorority-bashing, fraternity-loathing feminist group while living in an off-campus house, nicknamed Raghurst. To stand out, she dates Mike, a member of a notorious fraternity, Gemma Beta Chi. Word gets out that fellow fraternity member Bruce Comfort has gotten a girl pregnant and refuses to accept responsibility, so Raghurst ringleader Dyann decides to drug or “roofie” the entire fraternity at a party. But after a woman ends up gang-raped after accidentally consuming the drug, rumours spread like wildfire over what exactly happened – and who committed the assault. Henstra uses Greek myths to explore sexuality, debauchery, power dynamics and misogyny with sensitive and sharp writing – and a keen understanding of what is a complex subject matter.